US 7313246 B2
Eyewear comprises a microphone and a speaker. An eyewear neck strap couples the microphone and speaker to a wearer unit carried by the eyewear wearer. The wearer unit exchanges wireless signals with a base station. The base station is coupled to various devices such as surgical theater equipment, and/or to a telecommunication system, such as a telephone system. The eyewear enables the wearer to conduct hands-free communication such as telephone conversations and command and control operations, as well as to perform other hands-free tasks such as dictation. The wearer also receives data in audio form or as an image using a video display coupled with the eyewear.
1. An earstem for eyeglasses used in a communication system comprising:
a temple portion,
a speaker support portion for supporting a speaker mount, the speaker support comprising a loop in the earstem, with the loop slidably retaining the speaker mount between the “legs” of the loop for motion along the axis of the loop so that the position of the speaker mount can be adjusted by a wearer along two axes to be over at least a portion of the wearer's concha, wherein the two axes are inclined with respect to each other and parallel to the wearer's external ear,
an earpiece portion, wherein the joined temple, speaker support, and earpiece portions are adapted and configured to support the speaker mount away from a wearer's outer ear with a gap sufficient to permit the wearer to hear environmental sounds without significant obstruction; and
a microphone mount that is carried by the temporal portion, wherein the microphone mount further comprises:
a cavity within the earstem for retaining a microphone, and
a first port inclined downward and forward for permitting entry of a wearer's voice into the cavity;
a second port inclined upward and rearward for permitting entry of environmental sounds into the cavity; and
a gradient microphone retained within the cavity.
2. An eyeglasses communication system comprising:
eyeglasses comprising at least one earstem of
a wearer unit operably coupled to the speaker and the microphone.
3. The system of
4. The system of
5. The system of
6. An eyeglasses local communication system comprising:
a plurality of eyeglasses, each of the eyeglasses comprising at least one earstem of
a plurality of wireless wearer units, each wireless wearer unit operably coupled to the speaker and microphone associated with one of the eyeglasses associated and relaying locally and wirelessly signals to and from the coupled speaker and microphone, and
at least one base station wirelessly and operably coupled to the plurality of wireless wearer units.
7. The system of
an interface to an equipment, and
a programmable device executing one or more processes that translates between voice signals exchanged with at least one of the eyeglasses and equipment signals exchanged with an equipment through the equipment interface, wherein information can be exchanged between a wearer of the eyeglasses and an interfaced equipment.
8. The system of
a programmable device executing one or more processes that route voice signals between at least two of the eyeglasses so that wearers of the eyeglasses can communicate with each other.
9. The system of
10. The system of
11. The earstem of
12. The earstem of
a rotatably mounted speaker with an axis of rotation eccentric with respect to the speaker mount,
wherein rotation of the rotatably mounted speaker causes the speaker to move in an approximately vertical direction.
13. The earstem of
14. The earstem of
15. The earstem of
16. The earstem of
a cavity within the earstem for retaining a microphone, and
a first port inclined downward and forward for permitting entry of a wearer's voice into the cavity.
This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/972,478 entitled “Eyewear for Two-Way Communication” by Eric C. Miller et al., filed concurrently, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,729,726, and to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/972,479 entitled “Lens for Vision Enhancement” by Charles N. Wang et al., filed concurrently, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,641,261 both of which are incorporated herein by reference.
1. Field of Invention
Embodiments relate to personal wireless communication systems, in particular to such systems using eyewear configured for two-way communication, and most particularly to such systems and eyewear for use by medical personnel.
2. Related Art
Surgeons are typically required to send and receive information outside the surgical theater during surgery. In order to preserve the sterile field in which the surgeon places his or her hands, another surgical team member either relays information between the surgeon and a third party, or holds a telephone handset near the surgeon's mouth and ear. Both procedures are awkward and distracting, both to the communicating surgeon and to other persons (e.g., other surgeons) in the theater. Holding a handset in a position to allow the surgeon to converse is further complicated by surgical eye protection, surgical headgear, or other optical instruments the surgeon uses during surgery.
Surgeons also require information about supporting medical equipment operation. A surgeon who wants to know the pressure being output by a pump, for example, must ask someone to read and announce the pressure. Again, this procedure is awkward, distracting, and inefficient because the information must be relayed through another person and is audible to other in the room. Likewise, distractions and inefficiencies occur because surgeons operating equipment such as cameras must ask another person to make camera and video monitor adjustments.
Surgeons narrate their actions as they perform some procedures. A surgeon may simultaneously narrate for an instructional video recording. Most, if not all, jurisdictions require surgeons to prepare and file notes that describe the surgeries they perform. Surgeons typically dictate such surgical notes after each procedure and send the recorded dictation to a transcription service. The transcription service prepares a transcript which the surgeon reviews, revises if necessary, and approves. The transcripts are typically kept by a hospital records department. The use of a separate commercial transcription service is slow and expensive.
Apart from specific medical requirements, two-way voice telecommunication is common and is becoming increasingly popular as new telecommunication services are developed. For instance, many people now own portable cellular telephones, and cellular telephone capability is now being integrated into personal digital assistants (PDAs). But persons performing manual tasks often require both hands to remain free. Thus hands-free communication capability is required. Such hands-free capability is typically provided by a headphone and speaker combination. But disadvantages of these combinations include the need for head size and microphone position adjustment when donning the headset, weight causing discomfort during prolonged use, and interference with corrective eyeglasses or other eye protection worn by the headset wearer. Other disadvantages include speakers, speaker cups, or ear canal inserts that block at least some ambient sound around the wearer. Such sound blocking is unacceptable in many situations, especially in an operating theater.
What is required is a system that allows medical personnel in particular, and other persons in general, to conduct hands-free communication.
A microphone and a speaker are positioned in protective eyewear. The microphone and speaker are coupled to a wearer unit worn by the eyewear wearer. In some cases a neck strap couples the eyewear and the wearer unit. The wearer unit exchanges wireless (e.g., radio) signals with a base station. The wireless signals include information from a signal generated by the microphone and information for a signal to be output by the speaker. The base station may be coupled to devices such as surgical theater equipment and/or coupled to a telecommunication system.
The system enables the eyewear wearer to perform numerous hands-free communications. For example, the wearer may use the eyewear to conduct a hands-free telephone conversation in situations where the wearer's hands cannot be used (e.g., while performing surgery). Or, the wearer may use the eyeglasses to dictate notes to be transcribed (e.g., surgical notes). Or, the wearer may use the eyeglasses to control, and in some cases receive information from, the devices coupled to the base station. In some instances the wearer receives data. The data is output to the wearer as, for example, synthesized voice or as an image on a video display coupled with the eyewear.
The accompanying drawings are not necessarily to scale. Like numbers in the drawings identify the same or substantially similar elements. Some well known mechanical and electrical components (e.g., hinges, battery or photoelectric power supplies, electrical busses) have been omitted from the drawings so that embodiments may be more clearly shown and described. The embodiments described herein are illustrative and are not limited to the medical field. Skilled artisans will understand that many variations of the described embodiments exist. In addition, the following disclosure describes machine functions such as voice recognition, voice operated command and control, and use of the BLUETOOTH communication protocol. Such functions are well known and skilled artisans will be able to easily modify commercially available software to operate in accordance with this disclosure.
Eye protection portion includes left lens 108 and right lens 110 coupled by nose bridge 112. Nose pads 114 are coupled to nose bridge 112. The eyeglasses 100 shown in
Lenses 108,110 may be tinted to reduce the wearer's eyestrain and/or to improve visual contrast in the wearer's field of view. In some cases an antireflective coating is formed over the lenses. In some cases the lenses are treated with a hydrophobic agent (functioning, for example, similar to RAIN-X, marketed by Blue Coral-Slick 50, Ltd., Cleveland Ohio) that enables fluid to more easily run off the lenses. In some cases the lenses attenuate transmitted light as sunglasses (e.g., RAY-BAN G-15 tint lenses, manufactured by Bausch & Lomb Incorporated).
Earstem 104 includes temple portion 116, speaker support loop 118, and ear piece 120.
Referring again to
To assist picking up the wearer's voice, housing 124 is located on earstem 104 to be close to the wearer's mouth. In other instances, however, housing 124 is located elsewhere on eyeglasses 100 (e.g., on support loop 118, on a frame surrounding one of the lenses (
The wearer's voice is carried through opening 126 to the microphone (not shown) inside housing 124. Accordingly, opening 126 is aligned in the direction of the wearer's mouth.
In one instance the configuration of the right side of eyeglasses 100 is essentially a mirror image of the left side as described above. In other instances, unnecessary features may be omitted from either the left or right sides. In embodiments in which only a left side speaker is used, for example, the support loop 118 is omitted from right earstem 106. The inventors have discovered, however, that excellent sound quality is provided when a speaker (e.g., speakers in mounts 122,128 as shown in
Earstems 104,106 and the frame supporting lenses 108,110 are made from a rigid material such as plastic (e.g., SPX plastic), metal (e.g., titanium), or metal alloy (e.g., titanium alloy). An advantage of using an electrically conductive material for at least a portion of eyeglasses 100 is that the electrically conductive material helps to shield electrical wiring and components in the eyewear against electromagnetic interference. In some instances a combination of plastic and metal is used to make eyewear 100. Conventional wearer comfort features, such as soft rubber pads on the ear pieces, are used in various embodiments. For embodiments in which the eyewear is intended for use during surgery or other medical procedures, the exposed materials in the eyewear are tolerant of wipedown using disinfecting solutions (e.g., alcohol). In some cases the wearer should be cautious not to use a disinfecting solution that removes an optical coating on the lenses that is soluble by the disinfecting solution.
In some cases several sizes of eyeglasses 100,400 are provided to fit various wearer head sizes. Further fitting to the wearer's head is conventionally done (e.g., by bending the earstems).
In the embodiment shown in
In some instances housing 122 is omitted and speaker 123 is mounted directly inside loop 118. In such instances the speaker 123 terminals and conductors in earstem 104 are conventionally coupled.
As shown in
Referring again to
In some embodiments, electrical components and wiring in eyeglasses 100,400, and in the other system components described below, are constructed to comply with surgical theater safety standards. In some instances the wires 906 are conventional coaxial wires having a grounded sheath to provide electromagnetic shielding from outside electromagnetic interference (EMI) from, for example, electrocautery. In some instances, the earstem 104 material provides EMI shielding. In some instances electrical components operate using 3 volt technology and virtually no electrical power is passed through the eyeglasses. Consequently, the signals carried in the eyeglasses, and in the other system components, do not cause EMI for nearby medical equipment. The shielding used to prevent outside EMI also prevents EMI originating in the eyeglasses and other system components. Thus many conventional EMI protection configurations are used in various embodiments.
Microphone 1102 is in some cases a conventional electret condenser microphone. In other instances other microphone types are used. In some instances microphone 1102 is held in position by friction or adhesive. In other cases microphone 1102 is molded into the earstem or into the lens frame.
Cord 1402 acts as a retaining neck strap to support eyeglasses 100 around the neck when the eyeglasses are removed from the head. The connection between cord 1402 and eyeglasses 100 is made strong enough to support the weight of the eyewear. Cord 1402 is illustrative of many eyewear retaining strap designs that may be used, such as eyewear retaining strap designs marketed under the CROAKIES trademark. Hence in some instances the connection between cord 1402 and eyeglasses 100 is not necessarily at the ends of the earstems. In instances in which all wireless communication electronics are incorporated into eyeglasses 100, instead of into a separate wearer pack described below, cord 1404 is in one instance a conventional retaining strap and in another instance includes, for example, an antenna.
Frame 1504 further includes nose bridge portion 1509. Left earstem 1510 includes temple portion 1512, support loop 1514, and ear piece 1516. Some right earstem 1518 embodiments are a mirror image of left earstem 1510, with only minor variations depending on microphone position. The microphone housing and microphone described below may be mounted in either one or both of earstems 1510,1518, or in frame 1504. The left earstem microphone position embodiment is illustrative. As shown in
Speaker cover 1622 covers speaker chamber 1624 defined in housing 1608. A speaker (not shown) is positioned in chamber 1624. Holes 1626 extend from chamber 1624 through housing 1608 so as to provide acoustic balance for the speaker, thereby reducing unwanted sound output for the wearer. Holes 1628 direct sound from the speaker to the ear. During use, assembly 1522 is adjusted so that the speaker in housing 1608 is positioned opposite the intertragial notch in the ear. Support portion 1514 and support assembly 1522 are configured such that housing 1608 is held slightly away from the ear, although a portion of housing 1608 may touch the pinna. Thus, housing 1608 is sized and positioned such that sound other than from the speaker reaches the concha, thereby preserving the wearer's ability to hear environmental sounds without any significant obstruction. The speaker is driven to produce about 80-85 dB at the acoustic standard ear reference point. Since the speaker is close to the ear, its sound causes little or no distraction to other nearby people. The loop connects to wires in channel 1640 in earstem 1510.
The electrical connection between the speaker and conductive lines in the earstem is via a wire loop as described above. The loop is routed through gap 1630 in track 1602 and a small hole (not shown) in housing 1608.
Referring again to
Base station 2102 may also be coupled to various equipment 2114 (e.g., medical devices in an operating theater) so as to exchange data and/or control commands. For example, the wearer speaks a voice request for data (e.g., “insuflator, pressure”), the request is relayed to the insuflator which in response outputs pressure data that is passed back to the wearer who receives the data as a synthesized voice (e.g., “insuflator, 200 millimeters of mercury”). In a similar manner, for example, the surgeon may speak a command to control a device (e.g., “insuflator, increase pressure 10 millimeters of mercury”). The controlled device may request confirmation to prevent errors. In still another illustrative command and control example, a surgeon makes a voice command to adjust the white color balance of a monitor displaying an image from a surgical camera (e.g., endoscope). The signal processing required for voice activated data reception and command and control may be carried out using one or more digital signal processors (DSPs) executing software (e.g., conventional voice recognition and synthesis software, which is easily modified for use in specific applications in light of this specification).
Devices 2114 are also illustrative of an audio/video (AV) recorder. The wearer narrates an audio recording using eyeglasses 100 during a video recording of, for example, a surgical procedure. The surgeon's narration is output by base station 2102 as an audio input to the AV recorder.
In some cases equipment 2114 is BLUETOOTH capable and wearer unit 200 communicates directly with equipment 2114 via signals 2116 without using base station 2102 (i.e., a BLUETOOTH-capable device 2114 need not be coupled to a base station). In one illustrative application, device 2114 is a terminal supplying patient information (e.g., records, diagnostic images). As the BLUETOOTH protocols in unit 200 and device 2114 identify each other as a physician wearing eyeglasses 100 comes within range of device 2114, specific information (e.g., name, general diagnosis) for a patient associated with device 2114 (e.g., a patient lying in a hospital bed near device 2114) is automatically sent to unit 200 and output to the physician. The physician may speak commands so as to receive additional information (e.g., recent laboratory results, x-ray images) about that particular patient.
Transceiver 2202 transmits signals to and receives signals from, for example, base station 2102 and/or devices 2114 via antenna 2216 which is coupled to transceiver 2202. In one instance transceiver 2202 is a conventional 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) transceiver such as ones used in Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) systems and cordless telephones.
Baseband processor 2204 is, for example, a conventional BLUETOOTH baseband processor with software and/or firmware that manages the hardware portion of the BLUETOOTH interface protocol. Radio module 2214 is typically sold as a complete package and is available from various vendors such as Texas Instruments Incorporated headquartered in the United States, Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson (Ericsson Electronics) headquartered in Sweden, and Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V. (Royal Philips Electronics) headquartered in the Netherlands. The use of BLUETOOTH communication protocol is illustrative of other protocols.
DSP 2206 processes the BLUETOOTH stack software and applications software such as echo cancellation, voice recognition, command and control, speech compression, and speech synthesis. In one instance DSP 2206 is a Texas Instruments DSP part no. TMS320VC5402PGE100. In some instances DSP 2206 executes noise reduction software (e.g., echo canceling) that improves the sound quality originating at the one or more microphones mounted on the eyewear. Noise cancellation software is commercially available (e.g., from Texas Instruments, Incorporated), and modification of such software for this application is easily accomplished in light of this-disclosure.
Positioning DSP 2206 in wearer unit 200 allows the wearer unit to be customized to the wearer. In some instances each wearer unit 200 is programmed with a unique identification code (e.g., BLUETOOTH address). Hence the unique code also identifies a particular wearer associated with the wearer unit. Devices receiving signals from the wearer unit also receive the wearer unit's identification number. Devices sending information to a particular wearer unit address the sent information by using the identification number. In some instances each wearer unit is customized to recognize the wearer's voice and to recognize particular voice commands. For example, voice recognition software executed by DSP 2206 discriminates between the wearer's voice and other nearby voices. In another example, command and control software executed by DSP 2206 recognizes a command customized to the wearer (e.g., “call home” to initiate a telephone call to the wearer's home). In applications in which the number of wearers is limited, however, some of these DSP functions may be carried out by a DSP in a base station, as described below.
Memory 2208 is coupled to DSP 1506 and stores both software used to process the BLUETOOTH program stack and application program software. Memory 1508 is, in one instance, conventional flash memory. The use of flash memory allows software upgrades to be made in the field. Other memory types or combinations of types are used for memory 2208 in other embodiments.
Eyewear interface unit 2210 is coupled to DSP 2206 and provides an analog interface (e.g., CODEC) between DSP 2206 and the microphone and speakers in eyeglasses 100,400,1502. Plug 1404 is inserted into terminal 2218. In embodiments in which a digital-capable device (e.g., video display) is coupled to terminal 2218, interface unit 2210 provides a digital interface. In some cases a separate processor (not shown; e.g., a programmable logic device (PLD) as described below) is coupled between interface unit 2210 and DSP 2206 to provide another communication port for unit 200.
In some embodiments removable memory unit 2212 is coupled to DSP 2206. Memory unit 2212 is in some embodiments a conventional flash memory card read/write device that receives removable memory module 2215 (e.g., compact flash memory card) Module 2215 stores information from DSP 2206 (e.g., digitized recordings of the wearer's speech) and/or stores information used by DSP 2206 (e.g., upgrades for software stored in memory 2208). In some instances the audio information from the microphone in the eyeglasses is compressed by DSP using conventional compression technology for storage on module 2215. Various embodiments store digitized audio in various file formats (e.g., .wav, .mp3) to comply with the device receiving the recorded audio.
Certain elements are omitted from some wearer unit 200 embodiments so as to make the wearer unit lighter. As shown in
In the embodiment shown in
In the base station 2300 embodiment shown in
User control unit 2320 allows a person to route information from any input to any output in base station 2300. For example, in a default setting a call incoming from telephone system 2322 arrives at telephone 2324 (located, for example, in an operating theater). When handset 2326 is lifted and pickup is sensed, the call is routed through ports 2328 and 2330 to handset 2326. The person answering the call (e.g., a nurse) determines the intended recipient and presses a button on control unit 2320 to route the call via radio unit 2314 to the recipient (e.g., a surgeon) who is associated with a particular wearer unit address (e.g., BLUETOOTH address). The wearer then conducts the call using the speakers and microphone in the eyeglasses. Another wearer (e.g., another surgeon) may be switched into the conversation by pressing another control unit 2320 button. An outgoing call may be made using similar actions to associate an eyeglasses wearer with telephone 2324 and then dialing a desired number. In voice-controlled embodiments a wearer may dial a number using voice commands for hands-free dialing (e.g., speaks the command “dial telephone” and then speaks the numbers). In some embodiments the base station is assigned a particular telephone number and the inbound caller is presented with a menu (e.g., synthesized voice) of BLUETOOTH addressees currently communicating with the base station (each BLUETOOTH address being associated with a particular name). The caller selects the called party from the menu. Device 2332 coupled to port 2334 is illustrative of other devices and systems 2110,2114 described above with reference to
In some instances DSPs 2206,2306 in wearer unit 200 and/or base station 2102, respectively, provide digital audio recording capability. The wearer's digitized voice is recorded by one of the removable memory units 2212,2312 onto removable memory module 2215,2315, respectively. Illustratively, the surgeon dictating surgical notes may do so during the surgery or afterwards. Providing the wearer hands-free dictation capability during surgery advantageously saves time since the wearer does not have to spend time after surgery dictating notes. Or, the wearer may choose to dictate notes after each surgery. Providing the removable memory unit in wearer unit 200 allows the wearer to move outside base station communication range and still complete dictation. In situations in which base station 2102 communicates with several eyeglasses 100, multiple removable memory units 2312 are provided to allow each wearer to record on a unique memory module 2315.
Once the wearer's dictation is recorded on module 2215 or module 2315, various methods are used to transcribe the recorded dictation. In one instance the wearer forwards the removed module to a transcription service. In another instance the wearer inserts the removed module 2215,2315 into a corresponding memory module reader and forwards the recorded files to a transcription service via, for example, email. In still another instance, the wearer inserts the memory module into a reader coupled to the wearer's personal computer. Transcription software executed by the wearer's personal computer (e.g., transcription module including medical vocabulary, available from Computer Programs & Systems, Inc., Mobile, Ala., transcription module available from L&H Dragon Systems, Inc., Newton, Mass.) creates a text file of the recorded dictation.
Alternatively, the wearer's voice is transmitted to a remote location (e.g., remote transcription service, transcription-capable computer located elsewhere in the hospital). The received dictation is transcribed at the remote location into a text file. In some instances the text file, or a printout of the text file, is made available to the surgeon immediately after completing surgery. For example, the surgeon enters the surgeon's lounge, prints the transcribed surgical notes dictation, and edits the transcript. One or both removable memory units 2212,2312 may be omitted from embodiments in which the wearer's voice is routed in real time to a remote transcription system.
In embodiments in which a transcription text file is created, either by a service or by the wearer's computer, the wearer then edits the text file transcription using a word processing program executed by the personal computer. The user then adds an electronic signature to the edited text file to signify approval (a legal requirement for surgical records in many jurisdictions) and forwards the approved file to a hospital record storage area. Alternatively, the wearer prints a copy of the transcribed text and edits the printed copy. Thus embodiments permit the entire required surgical dictation process to be completed without using paper and without using a human transcription service.
Communication devices configured to operate using the BLUETOOTH protocol periodically poll for other BLUETOOTH devices entering communication range. Under BLUETOOTH, device profiles are defined (e.g., identifying a device as a headset). Accordingly, if one BLUETOOTH device enters communication range of a second BLUETOOTH device, each BLUETOOTH device will receive information regarding the communication capability of the other. Thus in some instances, when the wearer enters communication range of a base station, a communication link between the eyeglasses and base station is automatically established. In other instances the communication link between the eyeglasses and base station is controlled to prevent interference when multiple base stations are in close proximity.
A person 2408 wearing the two-way communication eyeglasses coupled to a wearer unit is within range of both base stations 2404 a,2404 b when located in theater 2402 a. Thus person 2408 registers his or her wearer unit with base station 2404 a. Such registration is accomplished by, for example, establishing an electrical connection (using, e.g., conventional pogo prongs) between the BLUETOOTH circuits in the wearer unit and base station. In other embodiments registration is accomplished by sending a particular registration code between the BLUETOOTH circuits via a wireless signal. Registration includes the wearer unit and/or eyeglasses sending the unique identification code to the base station. Thus the base station is aware of the particular registered wearer unit's identity. Several wearers may register with a single base station. In some instances the number of wearers registered with a particular base station is limited by the number of simultaneous communication channels (one channel per wearer for voice and, where applicable, data) supported by that particular base station. In some cases, registration with base station 2404 a ties the wearer(s) to the telephone number(s) associated with telephone 2406 a.
In some instances the wearer's registration is automatically terminated if the wearer moves outside of the range of the registered base station. Under the BLUETOOTH standard, for example, communicating units are continuously polled to determine if they are within range. In other instances wearer unit 200 issues a command to the registered base station to terminate registration. For example,
Embodiments are not limited to use in the medical field. For example,
This disclosure describes specific illustrative embodiments, but various other embodiments exist. For example, skilled persons will understand that references to eyeglasses 100 embodiments apply equally to all eyeglasses embodiments, including 400 and 1502. As another example, the several described wearer units and base stations may be configured as described in any of the various system embodiments. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is limited only by the following claims.